Saturday, March 29, 2008

Editor’s Desk: Tip of the Day.... Learning to Look at Your Novel Objectively

My apologies for this Friday blog being a day late, there were some technical difficulties.

Here’s a tough concept for many writers accomplish: the ability to look at their work objectively. It does take practice and time to grow into this. It requires a willingness to detach enough to look at your own work with fresh eyes. It requires the ability to admit that your baby isn’t perfect and that there’s always room to learn and grow in the craft of writing—a double whammy!

Easier said than done, right?


But still, you should try it. Like nasty, disgusting lima beans, this could actually be good for you!

The Lima Beans...

You’ve finished the story. Excellent. That’s half the battle right there.

Lima Bean #1:Admitting that while you’re enamored with your brilliance, it’s just possible this Most Terrific Novel Ever Written could still be in that "diamond in the rough" stage.

Lima Bean #2: Keep an open mind about the comments you receive about your novel, especially if they’re from your trusted critique partner... or your editor. It’s hard to swallow the bean when you’re told your baby kinda resembles a head of rotting cauliflower—even if it’s said with love, so if you’re not ready for a critique from a trusted source, you’re not ready for an editor to look at it, either. Step 1 on the Road to Objectivity is to be open to the likely possibility that your cp (or editor) is right.

Lima Bean #3: Put the manuscript away. Step away from the manuscript. Let it age for a couple of weeks there on your hard drive. Refresh your mind. Remind yourself what your spouse looks like. Reintroduce yourself to your children. Calculate the number of sick days you used so you could finish the story and how many you have left for the year. Reacquaint yourself with the outlandish notion of eating a hot meal before it grows cold. Go scrub the mold that’s threatening to colonize your shower to oblivion. Refocus by starting a new WIP. Whatever you do... Don’t think about your story.

Lima Bean #4: When you get back to your novel, after you’ve eaten Lima Bean #3, read it like you’ve never seen it before. Keep an open mind to the fact that you’re likely to find places in your manuscript that have you wondering what exactly was in those chocolate chip cookies you ate while you wrote that particular scene. This is OKAY. This is GOOD. This means you just had an objective moment. Pat yourself on the back. Kiss your brain. Then get back to work! This is no time for slacking off— you’re on a roll!

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